Catching a heater in the months leading up to the annual World Series of Poker can be a dream come true. After all, when you're one of the hottest players on the circuit, opportunities tend to present themselves, be it in the form of a backer, easily selling action, or even sponsorship opportunities. Jose Montes and Samantha Abernathy know this all too well.
RunGood Gear, a clothing company built around the poker player, welcomed the duo as new ambassadors to represent the brand for the duration of the 2015 WSOP, joining the likes of bracelet holders Chance Kornuth and Jordan Morgan, Clint Tolbert, and Cord Garcia, who recently won the record-breaking Colossus event for $638,880.
"We could not be more excited to welcome in two new ambassadors that have very bright futures ahead of them," said RunGood founder and CEO Tana Karn. The announcement comes after a successful three-stop spring RunGood Poker Series season, which crushed every Main Event guarantee. That series will return in the fall with an additional Championship stop in December. A mid-summer announcement for scheduled stops and dates is expected.
In the meantime, let's meet the two new ambassadors, both of who are in Vegas looking to capture a gold bracelet.
Family Man Finds Success on Poker Circuit
Hailing from Bronx, New York, Montes has been on the poker circuit dating back to 2009. He learned to play poker in college by taking part in $20 dollar tournaments and winning online freerolls. From there it was on to $1-$2 no-limit hold'em games, and then this past January he caught his first big break when he topped a field of 1,363 players to win the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Main Event for $352,669 and his first gold ring.
A month later, the loving husband and father proved he was no one-hit wonder when he took down the Heartland Poker Tour Black Hawk $1,650 Main Event for $240,523.
"It's hard to explain," Motes told PokerNews about his success. "It's like all success in one shot, it's weird. You work so hard, you get $30K, you get $40K, I got $60K and I was like, 'Finally I'm breaking through.' All of a sudden it was $352K, a number you never think you would get to. I don't even know how to explain it, it's still not real."
Montes is in Vegas for two and a half weeks, but plans to leave after the Monster Stack to head back home to his fiancé, who he plans to marry by the end of the year. Also waiting for him back home are his two boys, one 16 months and the other two months and nine days on June 10.
"I just bought a house," Montes said when asked if he'd made any big purchases with his winnings. "We haven't moved into the house, it still has tenants, so she's staying at my mother-in-laws house. Once I get home and get settled, I'm going to fix up the house."
Montes will only spend a week back home before flying back to Vegas for the 777, two or three $1,000 buy-in events, and also the WSOP Main Event, which will be the first time he'll play poker's most prestigious tournament.
"I can't wait," Montes exclaimed. "I think I'm going to be nervous for the first time in my whole life [laughs]."
In between tournaments, Montes, who has $842,564 in career earnings, plans to spend some time at the pineapple OFC cash game tables.
"I'm a big loser of the game, but it's fun, so I enjoy it," Montes admitted. "It's a little different. As long as I keep out of my head and try to do happy things I'll be good, because tournament poker is so rough, you're constantly losing. This is like break time for me."
From Touring with Steve Aoki to the Poker Table
Abernathy is a rising star in the poker world, and the way she came to a few years back is rather interesting.
"It's a crazy story, but the short version is I used to have a real job, I used to work at an agency in Chicago doing mobile apps, games, and software," Abernathy told PokerNews. "I finished a game for [a guy] who was on tour with Steve Aoki. We met about prelaunch stuff they asked me what else I do. I have a background with photos and videos. They were like, 'You should just go on tour with us.' So I went on tour with them and we played poker on the bus. They went to Russia for the winter Olympics, and I happened be in Florida for the Seminole Hard Rock event. I didn't even know what the World Poker tour was. After that I went to my room and looked up the WPT. The next stop was in Prague, and I was on a sort of hiatus, so went and played and thought that's what I wanted to do."
Since then, Abernathy has amassed $77,049 in live tournament winnings, which includes $25,053 for a runner-up finish in a Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza event back in February, and $5,413 for a 48th-place finish in the 2015 WSOP Event #14 $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout a couple days back. In addition, she was at Philadelphia's SugarHouse Casino back in April for the Poker Night in America Ladies Night II.
"It was a lot of fun," Abernathy said of the experience. "I think most people got in for around $5K. I bought in for $5K and then picked up for $18,600."
With solid results, high-profile appearances, and a new sponsorship opportunity with RunGood, Abernathy's ascent in the poker world is sure to continue.